The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, July 8, 2022

The Return of "The Limits to Growth." An interview with Carlos Alvarez Pereira, Vice-President of the Club of Rome


Image from "" Note that they call the report "infamous" -- they are still influenced by the defamation campaign against it carried out in the 1970s and 1980s. 

The interest on "The Limit to Growth" is returning. 50 years after that a vicious denigration campaign had consigned the report to the trash can of wrong science, we see the study resurfacing, reappraised, reviewed, being discussed again. 

And we are realizing that the study had been correct and that today is still relevant for us. It was never intended as a prophecy of doom, but its true message was drowned in a sea of irrelevant criticism, political slander, and plain insults that prefigured the current way of dealing with "science" in the media. 

The latest evidence of this new interest in the "Limits to Growth" is the interview with the vice-president of the Club of Rome, Carlos Alvarez Pereira, that recently appeared on "Wired".

Carlos does not keep a blog and he doesn't appear so often on the social media, so you may not have heard of him. But he is very active in various sustainability projects. Among many other things, he has edited, together with Ugo Bardi, the new report to the Club of Rome, "Limits and Beyond" that summarizes and reviews 50 years of history of the first "Limits" report. Carlos' interview on "Wired" is a deep and wide sweep at the many facets of the problems we face. Absolutely worth reading.

Here are a few excerpts from Carlos' interview. 

Fundamentally, it is about equity, managing the resources in an equitable way, knowing in advance that they're limited. Realizing that it's not higher and higher consumption which makes us live in a good way, have a healthy life and well-being. It's the quality of our relationships with other humans, with nature, that makes possible the scenarios in which you can decouple well-being and the growth of consumption.


We have to be in a good balance with the planet where we live. And that part of the message was completely lost, very rapidly. Jimmy Carter, when he was president, was listening to this kind of approach. And then of course, the political mood changed a lot with the rise of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Reagan himself has a discourse in which he says, literally, there are no limits to growth. So from a political point of view, there was a complete denial of what the book was saying.


What the system has done, as a mechanism to continue with growth at all costs, is actually to burn the future. And the future is the least renewable resource. There is no way that we can reuse the time we had when we started this conversation. And by building up a system which is more debt-driven—where we keep consumption going, but by creating more and more debt—what we're actually doing is burning or stealing the time of people in the future. Because their time will be devoted to repaying the debt.


The paradox is that capitalism is also based on the notion of scarcity. Our system is organized around the idea that resources are scarce, then we have to pay for them, and people in the value chain will profit from this idea of scarcity. Conventional capitalism is saying that while these resources might be finite, we will find others: Don't worry, technology will save us. So that we continue in the same way.



  1. In the last few days, an ex Iraqi parliament member, resident of the UK, has caused a stir when he reported to the media that the current regime in Iraq, installed by the Americans in 2003, will be wiped out by an external force, and entirely replaced with a new - by 2024, at the latest.

    He claimed in effect - a golden age for the pre-industrial age Iraq today - will come after that...

    Resigning as the Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson has predicted a golden time for the UK ahead, too...

    This brilliant 1951 documentary has also predicted golden times ahead, covering earth from Abadan, in southern Iran, neighbouring oil-rich Basrah in Iraq - to London and beyond...

    The Limits to Growth predicted Collapse like a Big Bang...

    Collapse doesn't work like that...

    Our Western Civilisation thought it can orchestrate and distribute collapse - to a plan - hence The Limits to Growth and alike.

    An example would be Iraq, when made collapsing every day, since 1914 - non-stop...

    When one is able to explain Collapse, like The Limits to Growth, then that is not the real Collapse, but rather Control...

    Real collapse is when our Western Civilisation itself collapses - and nobody then would be able to predict what exactly will happen next...

    "In any system of energy, Control is what consumes energy the most"


  2. QUOTE:***It's the quality of our relationships with other humans, with nature, that makes possible the scenarios in which you can decouple well-being and the growth of consumption.***

    My strong suspicion is that Christianity is a major culprit behind our skewed relationships with other humans and with Nature. (It's probably no exaggeration to say that, both directly and indirectly, the three Abrahamic religions have inflicted far more destruction upon humanity and Nature than any other cultural legacy of humankind, and continue to do so.) At first there were actually many mystics in the Western world who saw God in all things and all things in God. The Hermeticists/neoplatonists thought the same. But such ideas were threatening to the Church, so it persecuted them and drove them underground, declaring God somewhere far, far away and totally free to rewrite any of His rules (so you can't perceive God anywhere in Nature and neither can you offer any 'proof' of His existence, since such 'proof' would imply He's bound by His own rules). The result was that Western man suddenly could no longer be sure if God existed at all. This predicament was to worsen to the point where God simply faded out of everyone's sight -- and "once there's no God everything is permitted." (Dostoevsky) Nature could henceforth be exploited with impunity.

    The Christian idea that we are all sinners does not appear conducive to a positive view of ourselves and each other either. The idea that 'those who know nothing of the Christian faith are lost souls who need to be converted from their heathen ways of life and thinking' can all too easily be abused as a means of exploiting the 'heathen'. And if we were all 'sinners', if we were all fundamentally rotten in some way, then would we not see each other as liabilities, leading to the Hobbesian/Darwinian worldview? All the more so if there were no more God to moderate our unruly ways and yet we continued seeing ourselves and each other as rotten in some way? Could this not be the reason why the West felt this great urge to dominate and control the rest of the world in the last few centuries?

    The picture presented by the myths and legends of ancient Greece would probably have only reinforced several of the ideas arrived at above. It is noteworthy that in ancient Greek myth no human could ever hope to become immortal or like the gods -- anyone who tried would find himself or herself in extreme danger. On the other hand, the gang on Olympus can and do play with human fates all they like. Given this predicament, what can there be for humans to aspire to? Might as well consume all we want, for tomorrow we die.

    Our current plight has its source at least partly in the cultural narratives of the West. I think we need to look at this issue if we wish to bring about any real changes in the direction we're headed.

  3. Thanks for sharing the interview. Most interesting was the final paragraph, “Culturally, below the line, my bet is that a lot of things are happening in the good direction. The human revolution is already happening—it's just that we don't see it. And maybe it's good that we don't see it yet, until the very moment where it makes a lot of things shift.”

    Where is the evidence for that statement?

    As you know, I recently reviewed some chapters of 'Limits and Beyond'. My conclusion was that there is a profound failure of communication. But there is another angle. Culturally we have been here before.

    Two day’s ago I wrote 'Patrick Henry’s Dilemma' at Henry was one of America’s founding fathers best known for his declaration, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" The source of energy is his day was indentured servitude. He knew that this was morally wrong, but saw no way out of the dilemma. In the year 1773 he wrote,

    "Would any one believe that I am master of slaves by my own purchase? I am drawn along by the general inconvenience of living without them. I will not — I cannot justify it, however culpable my conduct."

    We now know that the “solution” was coal followed by oil. However, Henry could not visualize such a different world. Therefore, maybe what we need, in addition to better communication, is imagination.

    1. it's already been deleted, but some others have pointed out the obvious answer:

    2. Hello,

      I found the article about world hunger well written and with witty humor. However, I guess that many people will not understand the point made by the author, enraged as they are by the provocative caption. (Misplaced click-bait?) Why was it removed?

      Of course imagination is needed, especially in constructing new stories exposing the follies of today's world.
      We can learn a lot from the womens rights movement, the labor movement etc. They were successful in changing perspective of people.

      I think that the "green movement" was pretty successful in the 1970s-1980s, changing peoples' default choices, reducing littering and legislation to curb pollution.

      The counter-movement from the owning classes has been very successful, into changing the narrative from "legislation" to "market incentives". "Pollution Pricing" is supposed to harness the forces of corporations to do good by doing well. It is mostly a scam, but seldom exposed. (I like the interview with Fred Hache here:

      Imagination of a better world - utopian thinking - is key to rallying the masses. I love the book "RetroSuburbia" by David Holmgren. It shows how it is possible to live sustainably in an affluent country (Australia), with case studies of numerous families who do it already today. If they can, so can we. It is also framed in a beautiful narrative and values.


  4. Hi,

    just quick check, is it possible that google or bing banned your blog? I were searching for "seneca effect" and I could swear, that last time this blog was on first position but now it's not there anymore not even on second page. Is it possible, that you were banned?

    1. I searched "seneca effect" in a Win 8 Chrome browser and google gave this blog address as the 8th result. Same using Chrome app on the phone.
      However, using DuckDuckGo on the phone I do not get the blog address. Not even looking for "thesenecaeffect blogspot". Allegedly it uses the same search engine, but the results are different.
      I have the same issue with Turiel's blog.

    2. It is very likely that the Seneca Blog is not liked by the Powers that Be. I noted the same problem. The blog is difficult to find on search engine and the number of contacts doesn't grow over about 1500 per day. Not bad, though. And I do think that quality counts more than quantity

    3. I think I've found the issue. Any Browser or search engine that makes use of the (Microsoft) Bing search engine is not showing proper results. My DuckDuckGo browser is using Bing, apparently. Lots of other 'free' and 'secure' search engines are using Bing underneath (Brave, mogeek, swisscows). You are banned in all of these.
      Google search engine gives better results, but still places the most logical result several places down.
      Startpage search engine is slightly better.
      Yandex works best, it gives your blog as the first or second result. You must be russian friendly.

      Short, you are not hated by the PTB, only by Bill Gates et al.

    4. Rotten luck: 8 billion people in the world, and Bill Gates hates ME! Darn....

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